The visiting Toronto Blue Jays will send their top pitching prospect to the mound on Thursday in the rubber game of the best-of-three series against the Atlanta Braves.
Toronto evened the interleague series on Wednesday with a 2-1 win that snapped its three-game losing streak. The Jays put the brakes on an Atlanta offense that entered the game as the major league leader in runs scored.
Nate Pearson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will start for Toronto in a game that features a pair of young right-handers who are both making their second start of the season. Pearson will be opposed by Atlanta’s Touki Toussaint (0-0, 8.10).
Pearson will be making only his second career appearance and start. He threw five scoreless innings in his major league debut against the Washington Nationals on July 29. The 23-year-old Florida native gave up two hits and two walks while striking out five, impressing observers with his velocity.
“My stuff plays here and I belong here,” Pearson said. “I’ll just carry the confidence that I had (in his first start) into my next outing and my outings in years to come. I know my stuff plays, and that’s all I’m focused on.”
Pearson is another member of the draft class of 2017. He was the 28th overall pick and is rated as the top prospect in the Toronto organization. He is widely viewed as a potential ace for the staff.
“When he got out of the game (against Washington), I said, ‘Hey, man, we’ve got a chance to win every five days,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoya said.
Toussaint, a late arrival to summer camp after spending much of July in quarantine for COVID-19, was thrust into the rotation after Atlanta designated Mike Foltynewicz for assignment.
He was limited to four innings in his first start against the New York Mets on Saturday, but he did not allow a run while permitting three hits and three walks. He struck out five.
“You look at something like this and think the hard work is paying off,” Toussaint said. “This is a building block that I’m going to use to keep trying to get more innings in.”
Toussaint will be making his eighth career start. He has never faced Toronto.
He will need to find a way to slow first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is 3-for-7 in the series — all doubles. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has hit safely in six of the eight Jays’ games this season.
The Braves activated veteran Nick Markakis on Wednesday and used him as pinch hitter. Markakis originally chose to opt out because of COVID-19 concerns, but he had second thoughts and rejoined the club.
The 36-year-old outfielder needs one double to become the 64th player in major league history to reach the 500 mark.
Atlanta’s offense took a hit when second baseman Ozzie Albies (right wrist) and slugging first baseman Matt Adams (hamstring strain) were placed on the injured list on Wednesday.
However, the Braves have been helped by the power of outfielder Adam Duvall, who clubbed his second homer on Wednesday and has 12 homers since the start of the 2019 season, the most in the National League among players with fewer than 150 at bats.
–Field Level Media